Written in 2012
On February 16th the Canadian media announced that former teen star Neil Hope, also known as Derek “Wheels” Wheeler of the TV show “Degrassi” was dead. Sadly, people come and go but in a believe it or not moment Hope had actually died five years ago of natural causes at the age of 35. The final confirmation had been posted on the Facebook group “Let’s Bring The Real Neil Hope (“Wheels” from Degrassi)” on Jan. 12, 2012
According to the National Post, the Canadian actor’s fiancee, Christina Boulard, released the following statement:
“The family regrets to announce that Neil passed away in Hamilton, Ontario on November 25, 2007 of natural causes. There was some confusion regarding his passing that they do not wish to go public with, which is why they are only announcing his death now to the public and the media.”
I searched high and low for his obituary and all I found was this brief blip of the former teen idol.
Hope was born Sept. 24, 1972, in Toronto. His parents were alcoholics — his Degrassi character also struggled with alcoholism — and Hope was candid about his struggle with his parents’ addictions. He encouraged teens to speak up and seek help in a 1992 series called “Degrassi Talked, which featured the show’s actors discussing issues such as safe sex and addiction. Hope himself struggled with alcohol addiction after the filming of the documentary “The Dark Side”, which focused on the death of his father. Hope’s last acting role was on a 2003 episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation called “Should I Stay or Should I Go”?
I was saddened to read such a short memorial for an icon from a beloved hit on both sides of the border. Do we ever wonder what people are going to say about us after we die? Are they going to say something decent, or is it going to be just a nod of the head? After thinking for awhile I decided that if such a famous person as Neil Hope can die five years ago and receive simply a paragraph maybe it is smart thing for most of us to write our own obituary and safety pin it to our inner pockets. Here is my Obituary now firmly pinned to my sports bra. Enjoy!
OBITUARY OF LINDA SUSAN KNIGHT DUCHARME SECCASPINA 1951-2012
Linda Susan Knight Seccaspina, barely ? died peacefully last week after suffering a short battle with stubbornness. Seccaspina was most famous for owning one of the longest standing retail stores on Rideau Street in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Flash Cadilac opened in 1974 and closed in 1997. She was proclaimed as one of Canada’s fashion icons on the Canadian Women’s TV Network’s biography series, yet she could not sew. The Ottawa Citizen newspaper labeled her “The Mother Theresa of Punk Rock” and “The Maiden of Death” even though they had no clue why and Seccaspina had to deal with rumours for years.
People will always remember Linda for her smile, distinctive look and the constant lipstick on her teeth. Her love and style of fashion came from her late mother Bernice Ethelyne Crittenden Knight who was a fabric designer for the now defunct Bruck Mills. Seccaspina also inherited some artistic skills from her late grandfather George Arthur Crittenden who was one of the originators of chalkware creations. Any Asian couple, deer, fruit or vegetables seen on the walls of many homes in the 50’s and 60’s were probably created from George’s mind.
Her gift of constant conversation came from her father’s side. Her great great grandmother, Louise Knight was a lady in waiting for Queen Victoria talked her way out of jail time for having “loose skirts court side ” and ended up marrying one of the Duke’s of Essex. The family’s claim to fame was bragging constantly about the ownership of all the trucks that hauled milk to the Nestle UK Pudding plant.
Growing up in Cowansville ,Quebec, Canada, she attended (not graduated) Cowansville High School and took her fashion design training in Montreal. She interned at Lou Shedlack (Bill Blass) and at the very first Le Chateau Store in Montreal where she was laid off for not being cool enough.
Seccaspina was an assistant designer for the children’s wear companies Fine Togs and Kiddy Togs in Montreal and retail was taught to her from the ground up for many years by the Vineberg family from Montreal. She worked in their stores for many years before opening her own in 1974. Her designs were worn by many celebrities, including Alanis Morrisette and featured in many Canadian fashion publications such as “Flare” and “Chatelaine”. Her pride and joy was her Edwardian Courtesan dress winning first prize in the UK and working on the wardrobe for the CTV (Nickelodeon) children’s show called “You Can’t Do That On Television” with one of her favorites Ruth Buzzi.
Linda’s first husband was a French Canadian Sonny Bono look-a-like from Sherbrooke, Quebec who remains at large and his whereabouts are unknown to this day.(actually heard from him in May of 2015) Her second marriage to mastermind Forbes 10,000 Angelo Seccaspina produced two sons. Her sons, Schuyleur Alexander Arthur Eliseo and Perry Ellis Addison along with Stephanie (nee McGonegal) and Grandchildren Sophia and Tenley mourn her loss and they still crab about their chosen birth names to this day.
“La famila at Nona’s 2014”
Seccaspina is also survived by Steve Yaver, who showed her what quality life was all about and that she did not need to keep 67 bras in her wardrobe to live a normal live. Also mourning her loss is Steve’s mother, political analyst Marsha Shearer and their respective families. The children of her late sister Robin Anne Nutbrown (Adam, Jessica and Matthew ) also survive Linda.
“I will remember your generous spirit and I will forever salute you for doing the things you felt you must to be true to yourself. You are the kind of woman I can only aspire to be Linda – just remember to take care of yourself in heaven as well as you took care of the people around you.”..
Lisa Crandall- Iroquois,Ontario
“You were without a doubt the most stubborn woman I have ever met but then you had a heart as big as the sea and as wide as the ocean. We met by accident but you absolutely picked me up from the edge of hell. I can never forget you for that. I knew you would always be there no matter what. I always wanted to be the one that died first because I don’t want to be here without you..you stubborn horses-ass.”
Nancy Erwin- Pelham, Alabama
Linda requested no funeral or memorial. Instead, half her ashes were distributed in her Carleton Place, Ontario garden to the tune of Green Day’s song “I Hope You had The Time of Your Life” . The other half of her ashes she requested be distributed in the San Pablo Casino parking lot as close to the Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get.
May she rest in peace but we have a strong feeling she will be back as soon as she can. As Erwin said; she is one stubborn horses-ass!
Remember no matter who you were– you were always my family! I hope you have the time of your life!